Safety Rest Area Strategic Plan
The Safety Rest Area Strategic Plan provides an exciting look at how safety rest areas operate in Washington and how they support the highway system and today’s travelers.
The 2023 WSDOT Safety Rest Area Strategic Plan Draft (PDF 18.7 MB) was released for public comment over the summer, and the final plan will be released in the fall of 2023. Safety Rest Areas support highway safety by providing a place for the traveling public, commuters, and freight haulers to stop and rest on their travels. They also serve regional communities throughout the state by supporting commerce, the flow of goods and services, tourism, and recreation. The Washington State Department of Transportation will use the plan to support short-term and long-term prioritization of the 47 state-owned safety rest areas.
The last strategic plan was updated in 2008 – nearly 15 years ago.
The draft strategic plan:
- Addresses core focus areas, including safety, financially sustainable operations, customer experience, truck parking, and resiliency, by providing an overview, goals, and strategies for each area.
- Provides an overview of existing laws that impact safety rest areas.
- Provides an analysis that includes the needs and expectations of users informed by the 2022 Safety Rest Area Customer Survey.
- Addresses infrastructure and provides a high-level cost estimate of the funding needed to sustain operations for today and the future.
- Addresses sites’ usage, factors, and benefits to reduce fatigue-related crashes, injuries, and fatalities.
- Introduces the concept of piloting alternative site formats, including urban locations with limited RV parking, expanded commercial truck parking, additional safety amenities, and commercial truck-only facilities.
- Establishes program evaluation tools such as crash data, usage, availability of alternative locations, truck parking needs, and usage needs by customer group (RV, passenger vehicles, commercial truck) as a quantitative tool to evaluate the criticality of each location to the operations of a multi-modal system.
The 2023 draft plan does not call for adding or closing any existing Safety Rest Areas. However, in condition assessments, 87% of buildings were rated in critical condition, and the plan outlines a financial need of $375-$525 million over the next fifteen years to upgrade or renovate the aging infrastructure.
WSDOT’s safety rest areas
The Safety Rest Area Strategic Plan informs operational decisions for WSDOT today and is a compass for the program’s future. The plan will be used to inform decisions regarding the agency’s facilities and help connect the traveling public with a safe, sustainable option for rest during highway travel.
WSDOT safety rest areas by the numbers
- 24 million users annually.
- 47 locations statewide*.
- 20 RV dump stations.
- 532 commercial truck parking spaces**.
* Three locations are seasonal. The busiest rest areas undergo short temporary closures throughout the year to accommodate maintenance that cannot be completed when open to the public. Closures are rotated to minimize inconvenience to travelers.
**Most spaces are shared truck/RV based on the safety rest area.
Aging facilities, increased needs
WSDOT’s rest area facilities are aging and need significant repair and improvements to remain operational. These sites are heavily utilized and expensive to maintain critical infrastructures such as plumbing, potable water, sewage systems, and pavement.
- 87% of WSDOT safety rest areas are rated in critical condition.
- Most sites were built between 1967 and 1974, and more than half of the rest area buildings will be 50 years or older by 2031. As facilities get closer to the 50-year mark, there is an urgent need for either considerable rehabilitation investment or closure of lesser-used facilities.
The public comment period for the Safety Rest Area Strategic Plan Draft (PDF 18.7 MB) closed August 30, 2023.
Late fall 2023
Final plan published and recommendations given to stakeholders and the Washington State Legislature.
Get updates for safety rest areas
Subscribe to receive email updates from WSDOT’s Safety Rest Area planning team. Digital communications will be sent every quarter. They will include information on safety rest areas in Washington state, outreach opportunities, and updates on the overall strategic plan – including the next steps and what people can expect.